Being the son of two teachers has an affect. When I was growing up it became abundantly clear the dedication teachers give to their profession. This goes way beyond what is seen within the classroom, and quite frankly deserves the elongated holidays that people comment on.
What also became apparent, the more I watched and listened, was the underlying motivations for this dedication; a genuine desire to help, develop and inspire youths, no matter their background or outlook, to be the best they can possibly be, often challenging and reframing self-belief and perceived self-worth.
There is often a frustration for those within mainstream education that more cannot be done when it is blatantly clear where help is needed. This is not the fault of the teachers, parents or pupils, but it should be recognised that mainstream systems and processes are designed for the mainstream.
I was very fortunate that I was able to navigate the traditional education system towards a career that I have loved over the last three decades. Whilst I was able to learn to achieve good exam results, I recognise in myself that certain methods work better than others. Some teachers inspired me to push harder and saw things in me that I didn’t. Varying subjects were therefore welcomed with open arms, others rejected and despised. The subject or my ability wasn’t the issue, the method or approach was.
Since very early childhood I have loved mechanical things and was the stereotypical ‘engineer’ taking things apart, but not necessarily getting them back together again. Being able to interact with physical things, wanting to understand how and why they worked, helped me understand some concepts taught in classrooms later.
I know I am luckier than many. My career to date has been fully within the automotive industry, combining a personal interest with a method of providing for those around me. The automotive industry is an amazing collection of people from a huge variety of backgrounds, developing products that change lives and employing hundreds of thousands of people. It is an industry where everyone from shop floor to board room have an invaluable role to play, and it is an industry where shop floor knowledge can propel you to a board room.
Understanding that different teaching methods can help different learning types, and that different skills are required within a functioning organisation, it becomes obvious that organisations like GASP offer an essential role in a caring society. When I came across GASP that combined a passion of mine with a societal benefit, I knew I wanted to get involved.
As a Trustee, the direct involvement with the day-to-day operations is limited due the talented team that are employed by the charity, but the ability to support that team and offer guidance when wanted or needed is a rewarding way of utilising years of experience. In the words of a famous supermarket, every little helps, be it time, money or simply intellectual support.
We live in a world where ‘likes’ and ‘feedback ratings’ seem to be the driving force behind many actions, but if I count the number of times my 70 year old parents get stopped in the street by people whose lives they have improved there is no greater feedback. I have seen first hand the positive effect GASP has on individuals and I know what GASP does is more widely appreciated as beneficial; I am proud to be part of that machine.